LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Curing educational myopiaI am writing in response to a Nov. 16 edition letter to the editor entitled “Lawrence Losing Educational Focus,” by Allison Augustyn. In this letter the author complains that Lawrence is losing its educational focus due to new curriculum additions that are much too specific and thus “infringe upon the fundamental purpose of a liberal arts education.” She then points out these irrelevancies as being especially minority literature and African-American history.
I agree with her that the purpose of liberal arts is to provide a foundation for the liberal thinker. But what boggles me is the fact that the university’s recent efforts to embrace diversity impedes with her concept of ‘liberal arts.’ So let me get this straight, broadening the curriculum to include more contact with traditionally ignored sections of American history is LIMITING our sphere? And that the old Lawrence curriculum is better primarily because it offered obsolete analyses of ancient civilizations?
Both curricula have their inadequacies. But changes are occurring because so is our focus. The focus is still educational, but it now caters to a more complicated and multi-inspired student body. While kudos will always be given to dead British writers, there is also an upcoming and overdue appreciation for writers and historians who are PRESENTLY paving literary history.
I would describe the article as bitterly nostalgic. As always, I have viewed the contributions of 18th century literature and thought it genius, but obviously Miss Augustyn thinks of these Britons with a “grass is greener” mentality. Never mind that most graduating seniors do not know who Paul Dunbar or Mitsuye Yamada is; withholding the impact that “minority literature” has had on this civilization would be a very unfortunate thing.
Both old and new curricula of Lawrence are exemplary in many ways, including that of creativity. Getting creative, whether it is through the inclusion of the Classics, Marxists, Gay and Lesbian literature, or even Science Fiction, should serve the purpose of sparking and fueling a fire for comprehension and excellence in prose, and not just to provide background information.
So while Miss Augustyn maintains that such new accompaniments to the curriculum are negligible and horrific, the new additions reflect flexibility of thinking that is supposed to be typical in a liberal arts environment. Flexibility is the trademark of a beautiful mind.